Hurricane Otto: Information for tourists in Costa Rica

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If you happen to be vacationing in Costa Rica right now and you are concerned about the hurricane alert, don’t panic, here’s what you need to know:

This is the first-time Costa Rica is in danger of being directly affected by a hurricane; this country has received the indirect effects of several tropical storms and hurricanes in the past, the last one was Juana in 1988.

Costa Rica has a three-level warning system (Green, Yellow, and Red), Red being the highest, and the Costa Rica National Emergency Commission (Comision Nacional de Emergencias, or CNE) has declared the following areas in red alert: the Caribbean, San Carlos (Alajuela), La Cruz (Guanacaste), Los Chiles (Alajuela), Upala (Alajuela), Rio Cuarto de Grecia (Alajuela), South Pacific area. Authorities have already evacuated over 4000 people from the most vulnerable zones. If you are in any of these places please consider leaving to a safer zone.

A yellow alert is in effect for the rest of the country.

Schools and public institutions (except those necessary to attend the emergency) will remain closed on Thursday 24 and Friday 25.

Airports remain open and functioning normally as of this time and are expected to remain open, however this could change depending on the evolution of the natural phenomenon; airlines, however, could at their own discretion cancel flights to or from Costa Rica in the event of bad weather conditions. If you are traveling this Thursday, Nov. 24 or Friday, Nov.25 check your flight status before leaving your house; you can also check in the Juan Santamaria Webpage.

Hurricane Otto, currently a category 1 hurricane, will start affecting the country as of this Wednesday evening and early hours of Thursday, it is expected to hit land in Costa Rica at 7:57 p.m. Thursday, November 24th
Route 32 (to Limon) remains closed because of a landslide and probably will be opened again early Thursday.

If you had planned tours for Thursday or Friday consider cancelling or rescheduling.

Heavy rains, strong winds, flooding and mudslides are part of the effects expected from hurricane Otto. Stay informed through local media for updates and possible warnings or alerts issued by the government.

Carry your travel documents with you at all times, but keep them in a safe and waterproof location. Follow official instructions.

If possible stay inside and in a safe area during bad weather conditions and take normal precaution measures. Inform your family of your location.

If you are a U.S. citizen, the US embassy has recommended that all U.S. citizens visiting or residing in Costa Rica enroll in the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). “STEP enrollment gives you the latest security updates, and makes it easier for the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate to contact you in an emergency. If you don’t have Internet access, enroll directly with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate”.

The U.S. Embassy in San Jose is located at Avenida 0, Calle 120, Rohrmoser, and is open from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., (telephone number: 2519-2590). The U.S. Embassy will be closed for regular business on Thursday, November 25 in celebration of the Thanksgiving holiday. If you are a U.S. citizen in need of urgent assistance outside of business hours, the emergency after-hours number for the U.S. Embassy is 2519-2000.

If you are a visiting from a different country, please search for your embassy’s or consulate’s contact number and information and have it handy in the event of an emergency.

Costa Rican authorities: police, firefighters, emergency commissions and hospitals are available and in alert to attend any situation that arises. Should you have any problems call 911.

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